Every year beginning In December, there's an increase in traffic in Metro Manila as more people are out and about doing their Christmas shopping, attending holiday parties, etc. So along with more private vehicles on the road, there's also a greater demand on public transportation. But this year it seems especially acute for some reason, especially when it comes to the (un)availability of taxis.
To prevent disorder and confusion, most shopping malls and some mixed use business residential areas such as Eastwood City provide taxi bays where passengers are required to line up and await their turn for the next cab, Usually, there is a string or at least a couple taxis waiting for them anyway; so it's win-win for taxi drivers and passengers alike.
But over the past week or so, no matter what day of the week or time of the day, I've observed and personally experienced situations where there are these queues but no taxis at hand to accommodate them. One evening last week my wife Lydia and I waited in line in Eastwood for almost two hours. Granted it was raining and during evening rush hour. But the other day during early afternoon and in good weather, there was also a lack of cabs, this time in Cubao, a popular shopping locale in Quezon City. I was in a hurry and taking a chance by leaving the taxi bay where I had been waiting for awhile, I finally managed to catch one further up the street. Lydia also had a long wait late morning yesterday at another mall where she had been dropped off by a bus on her return trip from the province. Carrying baggage didn't make the delay any easier.
So if you don't drive and are planning to take a taxi in Metro-Manila between now and Christmas especially for a trip that involves a shopping area, be sure to allow extra time (at least an hour during rush hour) and consider other forms of public transportation. Alternatively, see if it's possible to catch a ride with friends or family members. If you chip in for gas and / or parking, they may welcome your presence to defray the cost of driving. It may not be convenient to have to rely on another person's schedule this way, but it may well beat the frustration of vainly trying to flag down cabs that don't stop as they are already occupied, or alternately of waiting for hours in taxi bay queues that are...just...not... moving.